SRINAGAR: With every now and then government claiming high of reviving the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) which has been running in heavy losses and plagued with number of problems, the ground realties, however, suggest that the corporation is being downplayed by the policies of the government itself.
Once owning a fleet of around 1500 buses, the numbers have now dwindled to a total fleet of 529 buses and among that only 287 buses (54 percent) are actually functional and operating on routes in J&K. The rest have been dumped in different government departments and workshops due to lack of maintenance.
Ruing the sorry state of affairs within the corporation, insiders say, the department is being “neglected” by every means and that “no concern” is shown by the government to rejuvenate the dwindling fleet of buses owned by the corporation.
To cite few anti-corporation policies of the government, they say, the corporation was in possession of huge property at different places in Kashmir like Pampore and Lal chowk from where they used to operate their bus services besides parking the vehicles.
“The successive governments snatched the land from the corporation forcing us to halt our vehicles on main roads. This, on many occasions, led to traffic jams or the corporation was fined by traffic police department even seizing our vehicles at times,” they said.
Moreover, the corporation is battling to overcome and retrieve more than Rs 5 crore losses that, as per Economic Survey Report, it suffered during the 2016 public uprising besides losses of daily earnings. The buses suffered heavy damages after they came under attack from stone throwers.
The corporation was about to get a fund grant under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to purchase new vehicles in 2014. But, government failed to take benefit of JNNURM due to carelessness by corporation officials. Under the scheme department had to purchase 300 vehicles in 2014.
Surprisingly, the corporation has more than 45 percent of over-age fleet of buses (condemned vehicles) plying on all the routes of J&K the reason, officials say, is the short of funds to purchase new buses.
Managing Director SRTC, Mir Afroz told Kashmir Reader that their department has written to government to provide funds for the augmentation of workshops and its equipments so that vehicles that are stuck in workshops due to lack of maintenance are quickly made available to ply on roads.
“The reason that half of our fleet of buses are non-operational is because our workshop centres aren’t able to cope up with the rush of SRTC vehicles that are brought to workshops for maintenance due to less or outdated equipments. Once they (workshops) are augmented, our fleet will automatically increase,” Afroze said.
Admitting that the majority of SRTC fleet of buses is over-age, Afroze said that less than 100 vehicles of the total 287 fleet are below the permissible limit of ten years. “Rest (of the buses) are forcibly being run to meet the demand. Now, we will be getting an amount of Rs 10 crore under AMRUT under which we are expected to purchase some 48 new vehicles to add them in our dwindling fleet,” he said.
Replying to shortage of land to park vehicles in Srinagar, he said that a proposal has been sent to government where they have asked for an alternate land in exchange of their earlier properly like SRTC yard near Biscoe School and in Pampore that were taken over by the government for other purpose. “Hopefully government will understand our concern and accept our proposals,” Afroze said.